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Thursday, 19 September 1985
Page: 752

Senator GILES —Has the Minister for Community Services given approval for projects in Western Australia under the home and community care program? Has an agreement to participate in the program been signed with Western Australia?

Senator GRIMES —In co-operation with the States we have designed a home and community care program so that, in a new spirit of co-operation with the States and the community, particularly the non-government organisations in the community, we can provide much needed domiciliary care services for aged and disabled people living in the community. In Western Australia an unforseen enthusiasm for co-operative planning seems to have been demonstrated. I understand that last week a joint statement was issued in Western Australia by the State Minister and me announcing a series of projects under the scheme. Unfortunately, something must have happened to the system because I did not know about the joint statement being released. I assume that it was just enthusiasm by the local State Government. I am sure that there would not have been any attempt by members of the Western Australian State Government to get an early release of the statement for any political benefit of their own.

Last year an unmatched grant of $10m was provided under the home and community care program. Some of that money was not spent in the year so we enabled it to flow over into this financial year. In this case, as in other States, the Western Australian Government has had the projects which it approved last year funded this year from that money. It is that money that the State Government was referring to in regard to the projects it announced last week.

It is unfortunate that the enthusiasm of the Western Australians has got in the way of our agreed planning processes and prevented us from making a joint announcement in the time-honoured way, particularly as I am going to Western Australia this evening so that we can sign the HACC agreement with the Western Australian Government tomorrow. However, I am sure that when I get to Western Australia the Western Australian Government will be sufficiently contrite about the terrible mistake it has made and will explain to me that it was just a mistake and a matter of over-enthusiasm and, of course, was not an attempt to jump the gun on the Commonwealth in these circumstances.